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Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Fleeing man caught after crashing into Celina cruiser

By Margie Wuebker
A 20-year-old Mercer County man faces multiple charges after he led law enforcement officers on a pursuit through Celina and the outlying countryside before crashing into the rear of a Celina Police Department cruiser Thursday morning.
Matthew Meinerding, 608 Echo St., remains in the Mercer County Jail pending a Monday appearance in Celina Municipal Court.
In addition to felony fleeing and eluding, he faces various misdemeanors including reckless operation and driving under suspension.
Police received reports of a Ford Mustang being driven recklessly with the driver turning doughnuts and spinning tires. An off-duty officer spotted the vehicle at Eastown Shell, 701 Grand Lake Road, and alerted authorities.
Patrolman Brian Taylor saw the car and reportedly recognized the driver while en route to the location shortly after 10 a.m. He turned on the light bar and Meinerding sped away doing more than 70 miles per hour on a straight section of Wayne Street. The pursuit continued through the southwestern section of the city along Riley, Zillah, Logan, Plum, South and Elm streets before heading westbound on Schunck Road. Chief Dave Slusser told The Daily Standard speeds during this portion of the pursuit were considerably slower due to numerous turns.
Sgt. James Stelzer, responding to Taylor's radio transmission, deployed "stop sticks" at the intersection of Meyer and Monroe roads. With his front tires deflating, Meinerding continued onto Brown Road and cruisers were able to box him in before the smoking car struck the rear of a cruiser driven by Assistant Police Chief Cal Freeman.
"The driver was only going 20 to 25 miles per hour at that time and having trouble steering the car," Slusser said. "There were no injuries and light damage to the cruiser. The other car had more damage due to the cruiser's higher bumper."
Meinerding was taken into custody without further resistance. He reportedly apologized and became even more cooperative once handcuffs were applied. Authorities impounded the his car.
The case will be sent to the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office for review and possibly more charges.
Back in May, Meinerding was found guilty of operating a vehicle under the influence and driving under suspension resulting in a jail sentence.
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